From Stress to Serenity: The Therapeutic Benefits of Reading Journals

by Dee


Reading Journal

I jumped on the bandwagon of making a reading journal. This is what happens when you explore Pinterest for days on end: You end up with a reading journal. It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, and that is because I am in the middle of another type of writing therapy: journalling. It’s not really easy to keep up with writing blog posts once you’re bound to work at home and seldom interact outside. But right now, I have enough materials to write several blog posts about the process.

Featured image by: XXX

Experience in creating a reading journal

Last year during my journey to overcome burnout, I took up bookbinding lessons. By that, I mean gawking excessively at Sea Lemon’s videos and learning about the simple stitches that make a book. I did it all, from making the text block, methods of gluing, learned kettle stitch and Coptic stitch, and perfecting my cover creation. I’m still not good at the latter, but I digress.

Realising that I enjoyed paper crafts, I broadened my scope towards stamping and stickers, just like when I was little. The world of bullet journals is a whole new different thing. I was obsessed with growing my stamp and stickers collection for several months—now I have too much. Strictly by preference, I do not plan to do bullet journalling. But then I was intrigued by the reading journals I saw on Pinterest, so I decided to make one.

Then I stumbled upon a video by Reba. Afterwards, I set a clear intention to make my version of a reading journal. I do not imagine it to be like those displayed on Pinterest posts. Even from Reba’s reading journal, mine is totally different. You can consider that this is my take on what a reading journal should be for me.

Although I’m doing a different style than others, it won’t be a reading journal without the book shelfie, as Reba said. This one took a while cause I wanted to make it with stamps like on her video, and the ones I ordered took quite a while to arrive. But they arrived, and I went partying with the stamps.

At first, I thought printing out book covers for a reading journal was overrated. But guess what I did—I printed the covers of the books I wanted to read. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of to-be-read lists at the moment; I didn’t have to print much. I finally understood why people are doing this, printing the book cover. It looked lovely when I pasted it into my reading journal.

I’m super happy how things turn out with this reading journal. It’s quite weird how satisfying it is to add more colours into your life. It  is also satisfying to know that I am up-to-date with my Matthew Harffy reading list, and I can’t wait for the tenth book to be released. 

Benefits of having a reading journal

Keeping records of books I read

I have a lot of journal books; I’ve been journalling ever since. I decided to create this type of journal and deliberately made a distinction from my daily journal, firstly because I want to keep records of books I read. Earlier in January, I realised I was confusing the stories from Matthew Harffy’s book with those of Angus Donald’s. FYI, those are two different series with different settings, period-wise and country-wise.

I realise I am getting old and beginning to voluntarily skip or forget things. Since I really like writing, I thought starting to write stuff down so I don’t forget them would be a good idea. At the start of the year 2023, I made a personal commitment to read 24 books by the end of the year. However, I have realised that solely relying on Goodreads to track my progress may not be a fun because it doesn’t have washi tapes and stickers adorning the pages.

To begin my 2023 reading list, I decided to revisit The Bernicia Chronicles, starting from the first book and working my way through to the ninth one, which is currently the latest in the series. With nine books already in my queue, I know that this will be hell if I do not keep track of my reading progress. Matthew Harffy’s books have quite intricate details, and I want to fully appreciate (and remember) the storylines and characters’ progressions.

I have a personal mission too. I love challenging my archaeology brain to expand my knowledge and sharpen my analytical skills. 

My reading is focused on the genre of historical fiction and I have found a way to immerse myself in the context and facts of the stories. I usually find accompanying literature to enrich the context and facts from the novel. This is by no means to find flaws or correct the authors, minding that I’m reading historical fiction with an emphasis on the fiction part.

Archaeology is (still) my home, and I like to feel comfortable surrounded by reading materials related to it. It’s not uncommon as I read some novels, I realised I had missed things when I was in the class. I find it amazing that I can still find wonders now that I’m no longer a working archaeologist.

Writing therapy

The burnout I experienced at the end of 2022 nearly killed my newfound career as a transcriber. I am incredibly thankful that I found a non-drug way to overcome it: writing. The purpose of writing down stuff is still in line with my writing therapy.

The feeling of writing as I read a book is similar to regular journalling. I enjoy venting and rambling in paragraphs about one particular issue I found in the book I’m reading. It feels as if I am having an internal discussion about the topics I want to highlight or research more. Believe it or not, this practice is considered therapeutic, and I can say I’ve proved it to be so.

I always have the urges to vent immediately in reactionary prose or paragraphs whenever I read. This goes as well for when I read a textbook. With a reading journal, I can write the raw version of my reactions and capture emotions during my reading. If I want, I can sort and edit them when I want to create a blog post or a public review about the books I read.

Having fun with the embellishments

I am totally addicted to stamping and I want to blame Reba’s videos for it. Oh, and Helen from Journal with Purpose too! The first time I realised that my regular journal looked different than plain old simple monotonic writings, I want to have more washi tapes, stickers, and stamps than I would ever need. I warn you, be careful with all these embellishments. I touched it once and now I’m hooked.

advanced divider

All in all, I don’t think I need a particular reason why I create a reading journal. I’ll justify it by saying anything as long as I have a reading journal at the end. I really enjoy the arbitrary manner in which I decorate the pages in my journals. Anything goes, as long as it’s pretty to look at.

I have been writing on this reading journal for five months now. I’ve also finished the nine Matthew Harffy books I promised myself. I have enjoyed the journey and quite satisfied with the return of my reading and writing habits.

This is my first ever reading journal and I can see I will have more reading journals in the future. I can always consider it as a practice in bookbinding as well. For some people, it might be a lot of work, but I discovered that the whole process from binding, making the cover, and filling the book with my writings worth the while.

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